Trivial: That’s HS2’s view of opponents stunned by ‘furry animals’ jibe

SOS Camden campaigners in Primrose Hill raising awareness of the negative impacts of HS2 in Camden,

SOS Camden campaigners in Primrose Hill raising awareness of the negative impacts of HS2 in Camden, including Peter Jones (second from left). Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

A senior High Speed 2 rail spokesman has described opponents of the controversial £50billion project as “people who care about little furry animals or markets or ponds of newts”.

Campaigners in Camden were stunned by the remarks from HS2 headquarters this week - as the government’s consultation on the proposed rail route linking London and Birmingham enters its final seven days.

Peter Jones, a founding member of opposition group SOS Camden, said: “This is not a trivial matter. On the contrary, we’re concerned about the quality of life of 200,000 people who live in the London Borough of Camden whose lives are going to be affected for 10 years.

“And we’re concerned that no adequate justification has been put forward by the promoters of HS2 for the public, especially not the impacts on Camden.”

The HS2 spokesman told the Ham&High: “On the one hand you have people who care about little furry animals or markets or heritage buildings and are dogmatically opposed to this,” adding that HS2 has been painted as “ogres”.

But Mr Jones condemned HS2 executives for failing to attend public meetings in Camden to face critics during the public consultation.

He said: “I would call on the spokesman to come and attend a serious and reasoned debate with the people of Camden.

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“I want to stress the seriousness of people’s concerns and it is serious.

“No value has been placed by the HS2 business case on community upheaval and the cost to the environment.

“HS2 will go straight across an area of outstanding natural beauty in the Chilterns, which belongs to the nation as much as the people who live there.

“We don’t have a lot of natural resources left and it’s not a sentimental concern.”

The opposition campaign has repeatedly claimed the government simply cannot afford a fair compensation package for Camden.

The new HS2 route will come into Euston station, with a connection currently planned to High Speed 1 services at St Pancras International.

Campaigners have demanded proper scrutiny of the business case for HS2 and fair compensation for the decade of disruption wreaked on Camden.

More than 200 homes will be demolished, dozens of businesses turfed out, a number of open spaces lost and up to nine bridges will be knocked down or undergo substantial work to make way for the route.

SOS Camden has issued a rallying call to residents to make their voices heard before the government’s consultation on the HS2 Hybrid Bill closes on February 27.

Cllr Sarah Hayward, leader of Camden Council, which has led legal opposition to HS2, said: “Camden Council’s position on HS2 is clear – we strongly oppose the government’s plans and are fighting tooth and nail to get a better deal for our community.”